The main driving principle behind Cruinniú since its inception in 2018 has been bringing visiting teachers to an area that has plenty of enthusiasm and potential but little in the way of its own experienced support and training. However, visiting faraway places costs money for anyone. We are fortunate in that Ireland tends to be an attractive destination for many non-SCA reasons as well, so initiating a conversation with a prospective teacher is usually relatively easy.
When I got to know Duke Sean, it was obvious to me from early on that he was my dream visitor to Cruinniú. He has a very long record of successful fighting and a well-known training track: he analyses, deconstructs, and systemises fighting. He cherishes the ethos behind our art, but in a very practical manner. Being a pretty nice guy helps too. He is genuinely interested in his students and welcomes their thinking on fighting.
There was an issue, however: he lives in Artemisia. Getting to Ireland would require at least a couple of connecting flights across the North American continent and the Atlantic. That was not going to be cheap. And getting all the way here would require effort. And surely he would not want to go into all that cost and effort for the sake of a bunch of nobodies on a rock on the edge of the ocean further from him? So I didn’t even ask him until last year. To my great surprise, he gave an enthusiastic yes. But how could we get him over without bankrupting anyone?
Firstly, I approached the Kingdom to see if any sponsorship could be made available due to a high-profile out-of-kingdom visitor coming to improve the state of fighting in a part of Drachenwald currently on the upswing. Unfortunately this was not possible, so we had to go back to the drawing board.
The shire held a strategy day, which was about a seven hours mundane meeting at our Exchequer’s house on a Saturday - with sanity breaks strategically inserted in between agenda items! We discussed things that had gone well, what needed improving and what we were going to do in the future. Among other things, we agreed on a fundraising strategy to benefit the shire in general and Cruinniú in the specific. We identified fundraising opportunities during the rest of the year and into the new year, assigned target figures we thought realistic, and divided responsibilities for the various efforts between ourselves.
We were not afraid to make use of our connections. King Vitus very generously promised to run his traditional fundraising breakfast at Raglan Faire for the benefit of getting visiting teachers in the Isles. Food, prepared by him and me, came out delicious, and the guests gave very generously indeed.
For Champions of Lough Devnaree, one of the premier events on the island of Ireland, we organised a cake sale, which morphed into a cake ‘n’ stuff sale. Many of us baked cakes, pies, and other good things, and went through our stashes for saleable second-hand items. Again, we brought in a decent amount of money. The cake sale was organised by Aoife.
Aodh, who has the gift of poetry, has in the past raised monies by selling sonnets to order, and he employed his talent towards our purposes here, too.
By now, we had already hit our target, so some of our plans were left untouched. Some of the other items on our list included selling heraldic mugs, spice mixes, even Christmas decorations and seasonal cards.
The Exchequer has suggested another strategy day soon, so no doubt we will end up using or recycling some of the above ideas for something else.
If you have a cool idea for an event, don’t be discouraged if at first it seems impossible or difficult: get together with others and brainstorm, and you may find that solutions and opportunities start falling out.